So, it's September 14th, 2011. I am 41 yrs and 364 days old right now. Yup, it's my birthday tomorrow. It's going to be a "wild" birthday for sure but I can't tell you what/why/how right now. I will save that for after the adventures planned.
I know far too many people who really get down on their special day. Personally, it's just another day, and I've really never been one to go all out and celebrate. Why get depressed? You cannot stop the fact that we are growing older with every breath we take.
I would like to share 12 photos with you. One from each month of the past year. And each one has a story to tell. There is a saying... a birth certificate shows we were born, a death certificate shows we died, and photographs show we lived. Enjoy!
September 2010 found Angie and I doing our first Raptor Encounter at Mountsberg Conservation Area when we visited for my birthday. I was in awe to have a Barred Owl sitting on my hand!
October 2010 had us finding an Albino Squirrel living very close to our home. Who needs the famous Trinity Bellwoods Park Albino Squirrel when we have our own? Ha ha!
November 2010 is a tough month. I could show you my comical use of the pumpkins after Halloween, my first Hooded Merganser sighting, our first encounter with the Gray Jays of Algonquin Park or my first meeting with Boo, a European-Eagle Owl I discovered at the Kortright Centre being housed at the barn of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation... which actually should be a blog on it's own with the chain of events that followed the day I first saw Boo. I have decided to share one of my pumpkin photos as it may give a reader the idea to do the same thing. I found it entertaining and hope someone else might. Yes, there be seeds inside...
December 2010 had me seeing a Coopers Hawk feast on a Pigeon in the backyard. Not the first time but the first for the winter season and many many more kills followed over the next three months.
January 2011 is a no brainer for me. I don't even need to look over the albums to know the moment of the month. It was seeing a pair of Long-eared Owls hanging out in a Spruce Tree near my home.
February 2011 could be a toss up as I went on a trip with Angie and Authentic Canadian Tours to the Nanticoke area where I saw my first ever wild Bald Eagles and Short-eared Owls AND Tufted Titmouse. But I also had the joy of discovering a pair of American Kestrels near home and spent a couple weeks watching them. Then, really, the moment is one I recently blogged about, which was me seeing a Northern Shrike for the very first time.
March 2011 is another stumper. I saw my first Eastern Screech Owls this month, and actually saw 3 different ones. I volunteered with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation at the Toronto Sportsmen Show, assisting in displaying the birds of prey to the public and got another meeting with Boo. And our first visit to an area in Whitby where we met a wild Barred Owl, who was probably the most photographed Owl in Ontario at the time (and didn't give a hoot about the attention); and "Jack" the hand-tamed Blue Jay. Owls are freaking awesome of course! But to have a Blue Jay jump in your hand... now that's beyond awesome!
April 2011 had some great early moments of Spring migration. From Turkey Vultures up close, to a Pine Warbler, to an Eastern Bluebird, more Screech Owl sightings but the moment of this month is when I happened to take a walk with 6 White-tailed Deer for over 45 mins and perhaps a kilometre or so. I am actually blogging about this story on it's own. I just need to sit down and finish it. This one was the most curious of me in the group. I almost had him eating from my hand.
May 2011 surely must be our trip to Point Pelee National Park for Spring migration. It's a magical place for any birder! Warblers, Warblers and more Warblers. I had so many firsts in that trip. But the Raccoon family I found in a tree cavity is another moment I won't soon forget. And then there were those weekends in Cayuga at Ruthven Park, participating in bird banding and actually banding some birds. In the end though, the Warblers win. I always wanted to see a Blackburnian Warbler of all of the species and I did; the other 15+ was about as great with so many added to my life list.
June 2011 had us at Mountsberg for Angie's birthday and we got to take some of our Owl friends for a walk about the grounds. But we also spent time with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation doing Falcon Fledge Watches. Yes, them Owls rock! But the continuing story of us with CPF and them Falcons takes it for this month. Spending hours on the ground watching those young Falcons like we were their parents. One can't help but not grow attached to them even with hundreds of feet in air space separating us. It also gave us some great quality time with some new people who are becoming friends of ours. Here is one of the Falcons at Etobicoke General Hospital, her name is Rain.
July 2011 was a slow month. It's too darn hot hazy and humid. There's nothing going on out there... or is there? We lost one of the Fire-belly Toads to old age (RIP Kermy). I had some amazing moments with Cedar Waxwings near home. I discovered a family of Red-tail Hawks around the corner from home. But the moment of July was discovering a pair of Chipmunks visiting our backyard. Entertaining little creatures and only once before, about 4 years ago, did we have one running around for a week.
August had me seeing so many Indigo Buntings beyond my imagination. I was finding them in every area I visited north of the city. I watched the Red-tail Hawk family for a few more weeks. Had a great sighting of an Osprey parading the sky with a large fish in it's talons. Moonie, our newest Budgie (I recently blogged about her), arrived in our backyard one day and was caught almost immediately. I got carried away in the world of Dragonflies, discovering so many species in our area. But the moment of the month was finding a nest full of baby American Goldfinches. They were maybe 10 days old. I had an amazing view of them in a large bush with a clear opening to the nest. Sure I've seen baby Robins and baby Red-winged Blackbirds before... but nothing like this. They were so tiny! I kept my distance but the parents were still stressed. I took a few photos, watched them for a few minutes and then left feeling grateful for what was shown to me.
Now we are back to September again. What can I say? The month isn't even half over. I've been participating in some Hawk Watches with a few others... just enjoying the high numbers of migrating birds of prey flying over our city and south over the lake. I've found a number of really cool spiders and a Monarch Caterpillar; both of which I haven't seen in decades it seems. And have been enjoying some moments with the Chipmunks before they go into hibernation. But there are two more weeks of September to go. And it's actually the start of a new year, the year in review for my next birthday. I think I will share one of my favorite photos from the month so far. A tranquil moment with one of our resident Chipmunks.